This is a taut, provocative mystery and a telling psychological portrait of a man and a nation haunted by the past. This book provides another tightly woven, brilliantly written thriller with an African backdrop by author Deon Meyer (his second novel originally published in 2000 – TRACKERS is his seventh).
Zatopek (Zet) van Heerden is an ex-cop, a damaged man who describes himself as trash and acts self-destructively. He reluctantly agrees to take on a job for attorney Hope Beneke. Jan Smit, an antiques dealer, has been killed; tortured with a blowtorch then shot in the back of the head. An execution-style murder. The weapon used was an M16, a military gun, favoured by mercenaries. The contents of Smit’s safe are missing and that includes his will which is needed to settle his estate. When van Heerden tries to find out more he discovers that Jan Smit had a false ID and sets out to uncover who he was. His investigations lead him into South Africa’s murky past and attracts the unwelcome attention of brutal killers.
Meyer effectively weaves together the progress of the investigation with van Heerden’s account of his life story leading up to the awful events that resulted in his fall from grace and loss of integrity.
Dead at Daybreak is a gripping read with a flawed but human protagonist who invites our compassion. The brutal terror of the hunt that develops is matched by the compulsive but increasingly ominous revelations of van Heerden’s past transgression. This is the second novel by South African Deon Meyer, a fresh voice and a compelling storyteller.
– Manchester Evening News